And then there were three, peacefully

I haven’t posted in a long time.  A LONG time.  I apologize for that.  Life has changed for us, and I am oh-so-very thankful.  Every day, I feel joyous thanks.

At the beginning of this year, my daughter decided she was done with the weekends with her dad, and protested loudly.  My son went by himself for several more weekends, then he found his voice and said he wanted to remain at home.  They played a dance with their dad for a long time, repeatedly telling him every other weekend how they felt.  I actually tried to settle them in on seeing him for a Sunday afternoon, every other weekend, but they didn’t want that either.  I realized that this was something I was doing out of guilt, feeling guilty and asking my kids to sacrifice for it and to act from a place of guilt rather than a place of love.  I specifically, cognitively, released these feelings. 

Now my kids are with me at home every night.  They see their dad for dinner once a week, and honestly, my daughter still just wants him “out ofher life”, and when my son detects feelings of guilt on my part cropping up, he reassures me that he has no desire to see his dad or be around him.  My son has an amazing demeanor at times of speaking to an all-knowing adult, where you have to shake your head, close your eyes, and focus on the fact that a little child just told you something so profound that you’re stunned.  He does this all too often, and then reverts back to his playful innocense.

My ex actually sold his big house and moved into a one bedroom apartment – which I take as a wonderful sign that he has moved on as well.  He took me to court at the beginning of the year to try to get child support reduced, and the judge told him he has a “fiduciary duty” to his children to maintain the type of income that he is clearly eligible to make.  The judge then ordered my ex to pay my attorney fees too.  Rejoice!!  The judge put up the boundary between me and my ex in a wonderful way.   My ex then filed for an appeal on having to pay that attorney fee (not an appeal on the decision itself, interestingly).  The appeal court basically gaffawed over the request, and said that of course the lower court had the right to levy attorney fees.  Whoo hoo!  And to note.. I say this from a place of goodness and not a feeling of “I won over you”.   It’s a feeling of thankfulness that the system, in this way, has stood up for what is right for the children involved.

I also started back to school for a second graduate degree in a totally new field:  an MSW (Masters of Social Work).  I am working full time as well, and as a result, see the sunrise every morning so I have enough hours in my day to accomplish this goal.  Why an MSW?  So I can pursue making systematic changes for children in abusive situations;  children who are court ordered to spend time with a disordered, abusive parent and “at risk” because of it. 

For the first time EVER… I had the BEST parent-teacher conference for my daughter.  Can you believe the teacher actually said “she’s such a happy kid”.  I almost cried !! (poor teacher).  It wasn’t “well, she’s great with … but she needs to stop hiding under the desk…. “.  It was so wonderful to hear that the way that things are going for them is working for them.  Her grades are amazing, and she is completely taking ownership and responsibility.

My son… here’ s the real kicker…. he had regressive behaviors – at the age of six, he wanted to nurse and routinely said he wanted to be a baby again because being a baby was easier.  He was sucking his thumb and always trying to put his hand in my shirt for comfort (I wouldn’t let him).  He pooped in his pants a lot too – and much more when stressed.  Within two months of routinely sleeping at home – that stopped.  STOPPED.  Nothing done to encourage it, nothing said about it, it just stopped.  Amazing.  Now, the poop in the pants only shows up if there’s an argument or stress coming from their dad, which I admit happens on occasion.  Only now – when it does, I can confront my ex with what is going on for them.  Again – this is from a loving perspective, and I usually get a cooperative response back. 

Thankful.  I am so incredibly thankful.   I honestly can’t pinpoint one thing or another on what brought about the changes, there have been so many components – my kid’s strength (especially my daughter), my own personal healing internally, etc.

On this blog I posted a “virtual vision board” – a page, which describes my vision for my life.  I haven’t looked at it in well over a year.  I opened it today to see what it said.  There’s much of it that is true – so so much. 

I have to say that the point of this post is to inspire hope that change can happen.  I believe in it, I truly do.  The post isn’t intended to say that the way I handle it was the “right” way… not at all, as I think that every situation is different, and we have our own answers inside of it, if we listen.   I practice that listening – mediation, quietening the mind, praying for God to help me make the best choices each day.  I also pray for every one else, and every other child who needs peace in their life.

Lots of love to all –


24 Responses to “And then there were three, peacefully”

  1. Kerry says:

    I agree….knowing we are not alone and that there is hope for us and our kids is just what I needed to read tonight…..I just wish I knew more about your story to see how it might be able to help my kids and myself…..

  2. Jessica says:

    Thank so much for sharing your story. Knowing there are other people out there fighting the same battles- and winning- is inspiring.

  3. StrongerMe says:

    Wondering how you are and if things are still peaceful. We had the same peace for a while, but now my boys are 16 and 17 and The Ex has re-emerged. He has money and is buying the 16yo things…car, dirtbike, clothes. And sadly, buying his love is working at such a difficult teenage stage. I’m devastated. I feel like I failed.

    • Hey there! I am doing well, as are my kids. We still continue to have peace, and enjoy our lives immensely. My ex still continues to prod my kids from time to time regarding spending more time with them than one night a week, but they both see through the words. We have a lot of great things that help – for e.g. there is a phrase that we use which is “if the gift has an “if” than it isn’t a gift.. it’s a bribe”. This worked well when my ex told my daughter how he “saved up enough money to buy her 9 weeks of horse lessons”. She got excited, and then she heard the “if”… it was “if” he was the one that took her to the lessons. She remembered the saying and applied it right away. It was hard for her because she had to turn away something really important to her, but not so important as to compromise her peace. In the end, we’ve worked together to consign all the toys they have from their younger years and she has been able to do more riding again.

      Our other leverage is something that is different than your situation. My ex is about $70k behind in child support. This helps a lot because he doesn’t want me to take him into court to get that money. So while the basic reason that they stick with the schedule they have is because of my kids strong answer to him that they do not want any more time (than dinner one evening a week), there is also this strong helpful component. I am sorry to hear that your child is falling for the money and bribe thing at this moment. However – that isn’t to say that he always will. Eventually he most likely will learn that money doesn’t buy love, and at that point you will still be there to love and support him. Your approach will be better in the long run, and when they really need emotional support and a supportive, loving relationship – they will turn to you. That’s what matters most.

      I’m cheering you on! This too shall pass 🙂

  4. Myrna says:

    I am to dealing with a a narc. My son is to the point he cries everyday. Is throwing up from stress. Now is throwing up blood. Has nightmares and as a preteen wants to sleep with me because he is scared. I have tried the court system several times. They only care whats “fair” for the parents not the kids. I see your kids refuse to go. Do you get in trouble with the court system for them not going? (I am taking my son to his physician for the throwing up and blood. A therapist just quit on us because she didnt want to deal with the father and his dad has to approve anew therapist and wont because he doesnt want to pay his share of copays and doesnt want someone to tell him he is wrong, so that is on hold)

    • I am so sorry that I did not keep up with the comments on the site for a while. I hope things are going better for your son and he is both physically well as well as doing better with your ex (or not seeing him).

      In my case, medical doctors helped a lot. They could provide services without both parents permission, so while I couldn’t get a therapist without paying an attorney $20k, I could take them to a doctor. I could also take them to the children’s hospital or the emergency room – and the social workers there could assist. Remember those types of places when you need help.

      Also remember the psychologists and social workers at the school. All of these professionals have an obligation to report any suspicions of abuse. Illnesses like stomach issues are real and emotions/”stress” can easily cause them. Clearly there is something going on for your son. My fingers are crossed that over the past nine months since you posted this – that things are going better for you.

  5. K Hope says:

    I seriously dream of your life. I tried to coparent when married and when delegated snd now divorced. My last hope is a court mandated system of communication where they have an option to upgrade so one does not express emotion which I hope helps support us both, as I too come from a place of I made this bed and Inshould suffer the consequences, not my children.
    I am silenced by court orders, my child is alienated because anytime she is close to someone she will tell the truth and then CPS and police come for a visit which results in her further punishment for talking.
    The “powers that be” I have promised that the alienation will only back fire if it is kept up, then they said they will no longer mandate her participation in anything from school related extra. Jerk up at activities to just plain kid stuff.
    I don’t want a dime, I don’t care if my ex respects me, I don’t care if I never live to see the day my child realizes the depth and scope of abuse she is sustaining and finds the strength that I did to get up and leave. (It took over a year to get away and I gave up so much but did everything so my child retained as much stability as possible”.
    I am not sure if you tried to coparent but I am disabled and worked so hard at it, making copies of every school assignment, flier, email notices About events that might interest the ex without me ruining a word to the child, etc. I thought I was being a great coparent but the powers that be said I was controlling by trying to keep the other party informed and removed some scary restrictions since they thought the restrictions put in place a long time ago were too controlling and if I told you what they were I jeopardize disclosing my identity and violating a court order but let’s just say it boils down to abuse 101 – neglect, violence, etc. s.c.a.r.y. is a gross understatement.
    I should have done more for my child. I promised after she was attacked and the. We were held hostage that I would not let it happen again and made the decision to leave. I should have listened and documented earlier but all I did was beg that the ex get help and apologize.
    It has ended with me terrified for the life of my child short term and long term and a daily fear that Threats will be followed through on and I will be killed. My ex was nearly successful once but luckily I had a friend with a feeling who saved my life. However, watching your child regress, including asking to breast feed to just feel safe, begin to use the same abusivebtactics the ex did, turn from a smart and loving child to an angry, defiant and educationally stunted without massive help even thought they placed out of any help because they scored as though they were 5 years older than they were when the ex abandoned them but when the money got cut off the ex came back and as our divorce finalized the other days they actually cheered when they learned they could seek child support from me.
    It came down to punishing the children and I for telling the truth, a bad report since I have the equiviallnt of a gag order by the narcissist and other sources so when Government agencies call like Child Services and Homicide detectives I am grateful someone heard the truth and gain an ounce of hole only to be torn to shreds to learn that the lies and the narcissist win and I am just doing this for custody reasons. The only truth in that is a therapist told me if I did not tell about the abuse I would loose my children to the foster care system and neither parent would see her again and back then I was blind and thought it was the best thing for 50/50 custody but I question that with a narcissist who rarely sees or fares adequately for the child (including not getting medical care).
    I just have a feeling that the children still suffer as they have expressed repeatedly but I am ordered not to tell the truth and repeat that my ex is a good guy and he takes good care of you and you should not speak negatively.
    I have surrendered and just pray that the children figure it out because I Am powerless in the matter.
    I admire you. Thanks for sharing your story.

  6. StrongerMe says:

    I am so happy for you! My agreement with the ex changed last summer and the kids no longer visit. I do still encourage them to have an occasional dinner or attend an occasional event with him. I agree that it’s my sense of guilt. I can’t imagine how I would feel without these beautiful creatures in my life every day.
    Most days. Okay, these days it’s only SOME days because they are now teenagers. My mom always said, Little kids = little problems and Big kids = big problems. She was right. So I am navigating my way through driving lessons and driving tests, car purchases and car insurance, girl friends and premarital sex, and college planning. By myself. With no additional child support to help with these new costs and the fact that I have them 100% of the time. Instead my ex is vacationing in a tropical paradise, while I am schlepping his kids and former pets around.
    I know that its the way that its supposed to be. The kids are better without all of the drama. I would be alone in most of this regardless of the custody agreement. He was always known for leaving them with me if they had homework. But I never have a break and the new financial obligations are overwhelming. Kid #2 starts driving this winter. I cringe at the thought of finding a good used car and adding him to my insurance. SuperDad SWEARS that he’s going to buy this car. I’m not holding my breath. I’m too young to die.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I found your tail inspiring..I am going through many co-parenting issues with my ex. He was content to walk away from our kids but his wife isn’t happy with that image of him. Constant struggles, turning of the truth and any act of kindness on my part against me. He has no concern for our kids at is all about HIM..never once has he taken into consideration their needs. He remarried two weeks after our divorce but lied to them and finally came clean six months later..I am working on my life and am pursing a msw as well but worry for my kids every day. We live quite a distance from him and they have to travel to see him this summer for the first time and it has my worried sick..there needs to be better laws and support for when that their wishes and needs are taken more into account than the person who walks away from them and is so blinded by their own narcissism that they can’t see the forest for the trees.

  8. Sarah says:

    I am just starting to go through a custody process with a man that has NPD and I’m lost and have sooo many questions. I was wondering if there was any way you responded to emails?

  9. Melissa says:

    It was nice to find a story that resulted in peace. I am at the stage where my children are refusing to go. We are to go to mediation because of course it is all my fault despite multiple attempts of counseling. I want peace for my kids and for me. I am being accused of alienation, etc. I do not even know what to say at mediation. What to propose. My ex as many narcs, very eloquent and charismatic for a few hours and days. Any guidance and to achieve peace for my kids, to allow them to stay with me when they are uncomfortable going to their dads, yet not be in “contempt”. I can share much more, but it is same story for us all and so difficult to watch our children have to “learn” how to deal with their father.

    • StrongerMe says:

      I think that’s the hardest part. Their therapist encouraged me to “help them find their voice.” It scared the heck out of me because I didn’t always have a voice because of fear.
      Those were horrible days…forcing the boys to go away when they were screaming and crying and fearing what events the weekend with Dad would hold. I don’t miss it. I miss some alone time, but I don’t miss that heart-wrenching experience.

  10. Jann says:

    I’m raising our 6 year old son with a narcissist. Left him 1 and half year ago and have since seen my sons confidence level gone to pieces. He does so poorly in school now and is always complaining to me about his dad. He has him every other week. I’m starting to think it’s too much and is doing more harm than good.
    Can someone advice me if it’s a good idea to take full custody. I will take him to court soon for a divorce – so far we just separated as I didn’t have money to pay a lawyer.

  11. Hi Rebecca, what a great question… how can you sustain strong will power while going through this?

    First – the situation you are in stinks. 9 year olds and 11 year olds shouldn’t even know what anti-pscychotic medication or suicide is, they should be enjoying life. Parent coordinators who fail to recognize the issues and protect the kids really frustrate me, as they should have the expertise to understand the dynamics much quicker the average person. Unfortunately, though, they are people just like us and sometimes they go into the profession and still have their own unresolved issues, perspectives and bias.

    I know what you mean about having the energy to keep going. One of the biggest things I’ve noticed during this last year as our situation has faded was that both me and my kids had more “capacity” for life. Our stress lessened, the ability to think clearly and focus -even for them at school- is so much different now.

    At the roughest points, what I did personally was to continue to envision the future that I wanted and really, really relied on my faith to know that our prayers would be answered and we would be able to arrive at a happier part of our life. I had very little energy, just as you describe, to deal with everyday life. I missed appointments, social events, etc. All of that “stuff” that goes on sucks up our energy, and leaves little left for the rest of life. I also have a tendency to ask for spiritual help in my prayers – for God to send the best angels to my home to guard and protect us. I literally imagine pink bubbles of love around us and that the attacks from the ex would bounce off of us and go back to him. This all sounds a little goofy, but it certainly helped me, tremendously.

    As for your kids, teach them about healthy relationships in general. It allows them to learn what a healthy give-and-take feels like, and they can use that to understand what manipulation feels like and how it doesn’t have a place in a good relationship. Teaching them this benefits them for all aspects of life, not just with their dad. AND it’s not personal to their dad… it’s a life lesson which helps them to grow up to be healthier individuals.

    Apologies for the long response – I’ve just been thinking about your comment and wanted to share some thoughts. All the best to you –

  12. Rebecca says:

    Thank you for your post!!! People who have not lived through this directly have little understanding of just how damaging narcissistic people can be – when we let them. My recent ex has gone so far as to try to convince our 11 year old daughter that she was suicidal and tried to put our 9 year old son put on anti-psychotic meds. They are happy with him one minute and absolutely miserable the next. It is even more challenging when our parenting coordinator seems biased toward him by not challenging him more than I. I have done so much work to heal and be strong and happy, yet the lack of energy I still have to even maintain the household is extremely low for me. Any advice on how to get a sustained strong will power back while still going through intense narcissist manipulation against our 3 children?

  13. Ruby says:

    I am so happy for you. I imagine you walking into your childrens room each night and smiling as you see them sleeping, night after night, in your home. Take it all in, appreciate every minute. I hope the studying goes well. Ruby XXX

    • Thank you! You are so right – I get this wonderful, ecstatically happy feeling when I see them so happy, so safe, so secure now. I’m so thrilled and so incredibly thankful.

      How are things going for you?

      • Ruby says:

        Hi Natalia,
        I am still in the thick of it. Mediation, possibly family court, difficult times. Also though I am getting better at managing it all and we are certainly having a good life surrounded by good people and filled with happy experiences.
        There is so much helpful stuff on your website and to be honest I worried about you when you didnt post for so long. I am so glad there is a happy ending and I hope many more people stumble upon your blog and find the pearls of wisdom. Have a great Christmas.

      • Anonymous says:

        I’ve been sucking on this website since finding it two days ago like I see my toddler suck on her thumb when she is tired. I feel such comfort and validation. I have two nearly four year olds and I try to co-parent with him (we dated only briefly but got pregnant), because I want to know about my children when I can’t be with them, but every attempt on my part is spit back at me twisted by him…I’m crazy, pushing boundaries, lunatic, need to leave him alone like he leaves me alone. He never contacts them when they are with me…they only exist to him on 1st and 3rd weekends. And then he abuses me when I just want to say goodnight to them. He won’t let me….its horrible knowing my children are not safe in their bed at home. I made promises to my girls when they were laid upon my breast at birth. It kills me not being able to say a simple goodnight, my promises broken to them. The insanity of the arguments, lies, twisted logic. He is so skewed away from a gentle or loving heart, but he calls me the devil. After almost five years of this, I still find myself staring into space, mouth open, shocked, wondering how did I get here, this is so not normal. And I want my children to know it’s ok to love and need him, I try to allow them their minds, especially as they are not really people to him. They are so angry at him for “being mean” to mom. They speak of worry that he wants “to kill” me and they have to keep me safe. No child deserves to have to feel so parentified…that they have to protect their parent. I pray for peace. I’ve lived in fear for my children since they were in my belly. I thank you for this website. I revel in the peace your family feels now as it gives me hope that we will someday have that too. Oh bless you all.

  14. Nellie says:

    I am hoping this will happen soon.
    My oldest , 12 year old, has just started to speak up for herself and is speaking up.
    She is still having a little trouble but she went to school and called the counselor thus resulting is DCF being called. Now everyone knows.
    Of course they told her it was her choice and I was able to have her at home. (The little one is not there yet but he is nice to her)
    I am hoping that it will get to this point.
    congrats I guess. I wish you and your family peace.
    and I pray for ours soon.

    • I pray for your family to have peace too.

      There are a few quotes I have on my fridge for my children, one of which is a magnet that I found at a craft market. It reads “I KNOW HOW TO STAND UP FOR MYSELF”. Literally in all caps. I bought it when my son started being able to speak for himself instead of asking his sister to do it for him.

      The other is St. Francis: “Be who you are and do that well” – because narcissistic parents want the kids to be specific little images, and are not interested in them being their own person, which they define.

      Lastly, there is a note from drawn onto a pretty little card with watercolor pencils. It read “You deserve to have a voice and be respected. That is what love is.” My daughter on her own has copied that and also put it in her room. I found it and rejoiced that the right message was received. All kids deserve to be treated with love and respect.

      Hugs to you- hang in there.

  15. Heather says:

    Love love! So happy for you! I got the kids in extra curriculars and he gets them to school on time. He’s expecting his 3rd kid from a 4th wife. I imagine in the next couple of years my girls will be less and less interested in being with him as that marriage falls apart. The system is clearly getting sick of him. But what’s important is that the girls and I do well! 😉 😉 😉

    • Hey there! 4th wife?! It’s confounding. I do hope that things move on for you and your kids. I am glad to hear that the system itself is starting to recognize the pattern, and hopefully will stand up for the kids. One of these days, I also hope to have an impact on that system and improve the outcomes for the kids involved 🙂

      Take care of you and Happy Thanksgiving!

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